your thoughts please

Recently I have been having intensive counselling re. some childhood issues. Very stressful - two weeks go some very difficult issues addressed and finally the upsetting realisation and acceptance? of what happened.

Shortly afterwards I had an m.s. attack which has left me with some difficult mobility problems.

No definitive answers but could the two things be related?

(I’ve always been a bit sceptical about stress causing a relapse.)

yes, definetely. All my Ms attacks have followed emotionally stressful situations. When my mind can’t cope, my body attacks itself, one of the cruel Ms defence mechanisms.

I don’t think there is any evidence to prove that stress can cause a relapse but of course we don’t know for sure.

I personally believe stress and ms are linked in some way.

I had quite a traumatic childhood myself and i do feel this had something to do with me developing ms. I had some symptoms going as far back as my childhood.

I just wanted to say “well done” for going for counselling. I have never been brave enough to go but i know it might help me. I think it’s the fear of ‘raking it all up again’ when i have put it ‘to sleep’. Unfortunately these things don’t go away unless you address them and they can fester.

Well done!!!

The relapse could just be a coincidence. You will never know. Your mobility may still improve if the relapse was recent. I really hope so. Look after yourself. xxx

Hi Anon,

I am a sceptic too. Although there are many anecdotal reports, as far as I know there is no study that has comfirmed a link - partly because of the difficulty of implementing such a study. Everyone has different stress thresholds, so unless you wired-up participants long-term to a heart-rate monitor, or some such, you couldn’t determine whether they’d been under comparable levels of stress. What is highly stressful to one individual may be water off a duck’s back to another.

I think it’s fairly commonly agreed that stress can exacerbate symptoms, but that is not the same as triggering a relapse.

In my own case, I do know that if there is any link, it’s can’t be a straightforward one, as I’ve gone through periods of great stress, without anything happening at all. I watched my father succumb to a devastating industrial illness - very painful, and completely without hope. We had to have a court case over it, and an inquest, and everything. If anything was guaranteed to provoke a relapse, you’d have thought that would have done it, but nothing happened. So it isn’t simple.

I hope your counselling has helped you, and you’re not now regretting it out of fears it might have triggered the relapse. You will never know for sure one way or the other, but I don’t think the link is established. I think occasional relapses are still to be expected, regardless of treatment, and regardless what’s going on in life. It could have been complete coincidence.


Hi I believe relapses can be brought on by stress. And my neurologist even told me that stress can cause a relapse. My first big relapse came during a debilitating bout of anxiety and depression and I’ll always wonder to this day if I had not let myself get so I’ll with the depression would I have been fine? Who knows. Hope your mobility improves Lisa x

I had a very stressful separation and divorce then a car accident in which I turned my car over. Shortly after I had my first MS symptoms I have often wondered if either of these things triggered my MS. I remember at the time having numerous problems e.g back aches, head aches chest infections that wouldn’t shift etc I never seemed to be away from the Doctors. He asked me if I had cried over the separation from my husband and when I said not very much he said that he thought that was why I was having so many little health problems, that stress had to manifest itself somehow and crying was the best natural outlet of stress he knew. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if stress triggered relapses but I guess we will never know. I hope you are ok re your counselling and it was beneficial to you regardless of the relapse you are now having.

Yes there is definately the mind body connection in MS. I think any type of stress be it servere anxiety, stress, not getting sufficent sleep and rest, could bring on a relapse. That’s why it is so important to keep an eye out for these. In a way you have to become your own guardian and keep an eye out for yourself. I wish I did that last year.

If a person is stressed in anyway then this would have an affect on their immune system as the body is under stress and strain.

yes i totaly agree, stress has always bein a major facktor in my life, both in family & work!! always had stresful jobs, but could never suffer fools!! that always caused me stress & anger,then relapse, & when somone tells me that they aint linked!! i heard it all before, we all have different stress tolerence levels, js like our symtems are different, i had a few bike & car accidents yrs ago, but i didnt find them emotionaly stressfull, js a damed inconvinence ( so enter stress levell )

but will say good for you going too a counsellor & i wsh you all the luck i can i quess we all have issues & demond

take care, Julien

Well, I believe there is a direct correlation between the two. In the same way that I know heat can trigger my symptoms, so can stress. I’m experiencing a horrible time at the moment and my symptoms are jangling. I haven’t had pain in my arms for months and since this all began, they’ve begun hurting to the point that driving has become difficult and even typing this is uncomfortable. This is not the first time.

A while ago in a therapeutic setting, I relived a childhood experience very vividly, hours later, I couldn’t walk. I cannot separate the two things. It passed and I recovered but I don’t think this reaction was coincidental.

Yes stress, I really think plays a massive part in causing relapses, so as soon as I win the lottery and am single again I should never have another one. Lol

My symptoms are definitely worsened by stress and tiredness. Not sure about relapses being triggered by stress alone though. Think stress in combination with a virus or other immune system trigger might explain it. I have had some very upsetting and stressful situations that have not triggered relapses.

I did a websearch under triggers of MS relapses.

The common ones are:


Infection - especially UTI’s. Any infection though can weaken the immune system and can cause a flare.



Some people are able to recognise their own triggers.

I had a huge relapse as I was recovering from an infection, was exhausted and was suffering from servere anxiety and stress. It was part of my first relapse so I didn’t know anything at that point about MS. I think MS is like a balancing act (for me anyway). If I try and keep infections sorted as quick as I can, try and keep stress and anxiety out my life as much I can and make sure I get enough rest. I meditate twice a day and that is supposed to give deep rest.

I would imagine a doctor would say the above aren’t the causes’s for relapses, just flare up’s of symptoms??

Barts University MS Research have an online questionnaire for MS patients and their families. Its about MS, flu and the flu vaccination. One of the questions is ‘prior to reading this post were you aware infections can trigger relapses?’

Not sure if that was the correct link for the Barts flu questionnare but this one is:

Reading people saying they have had stress etc but it didn’t bring on a relapse, I don’t think it necessarily means instantly, might be years later who knows, we are such complex hi Teck machines that have no user manuals or battery’s to disconnect so as to try (re,boot) that’s what I always try with electronics, sometimes it comes back to life working again, I sure I sound nuts to some, but think about it. Hmmmm

[quote=“SquiffyG”] Reading people saying they have had stress etc but it didn’t bring on a relapse, I don’t think it necessarily means instantly, might be years later who knows, we are such complex hi Teck machines that have no user manuals or battery’s to disconnect so as to try (re,boot) that’s what I always try with electronics, sometimes it comes back to life working again, I sure I sound nuts to some, but think about it. Hmmmm [/quote] i love the ideer, can i be the first ginipig ??

i allways cary jump leads & spaners!!! & a shovel js incase in ma jeep